Paul Levinson’s article The First Digital Medium defines the concept of a ‘Media Ecology’ as the study of human beings and their relationship to media and the environment these forms media create. His article focuses on the changes in media ecologies and how these changes affect our understanding of society and the world around us. Our relationship with our television, our phones, social media platforms and the news is what builds our media environment. Stemming off from McLuhan’s theory that all media technologies are extensions of human capacities, it is this relationship between technology and humans that form media ecology.
This concept can be interpreted in many ways and Levinson cleverly uses the development of the alphabet as an example of the tricky concept, which made it a lot easier for me to grasp. He compares the changes and developments in language and the written word to the changes brought upon by continuously developing media ecologies, otherwise known as our media environment.
The term also involves the concept of technologies. Every time we engage with a medium, we are altering the environment around us and at the same time, our perceptions are being influenced. For example, rather than choosing to buy the paper and read the news in print, I rely heavily on online articles. This change in our attitudes and habits reflects the effects of media ecology as it continues to shape our society as advancements in our media environment continue to take place.
Like many, I broke away from all the text and took to YouTube to find a more visual interpretation of the concept of media ecologies. I came across this short video of Lance Strate sharing his own knowledge of Media Ecology.
Levinson, P (1997) ‘The First Digital Medium’ in Soft Edge; a natural history and future of the information revolution London: Routledge:p11-20